Toronto has something that not every world class city can boast: a professional opera company dedicated exclusively to creating and producing new works. Tapestry Opera is a rare gem in Canada’s cultural landscape, and after four decades of boundary-breaking opera, the company enters its ruby anniversary in a stronger position than ever before and with a red-hot lineup for 2019/2020.
The season includes a world premiere, the return of two smash hits, and bold explorations into augmented reality, in addition to the launch of a landmark national project and the ongoing development of four new commissions. Partnerships with Opera Philadelphia, Luminato, Opéra de Montréal, OCAD U and others are a major part of upcoming initiatives, this season and beyond.
“It’s rare and exciting for any artistic organization to experience this longevity, especially one with a contemporary mandate,” says Michael Mori, Tapestry Opera’s Artistic and General Director. “Tapestry is more vital than ever, with unlimited potential ahead. I’m particularly thrilled to announce a number of significant partnerships, which allow us to rev our creative machine higher than ever before.”
In a world dominated by digital screens, live performances can be transformative – and not just for opera-goers. Tapestry’s audience is a diverse group of people who each find something different and meaningful in the company’s productions. The 2019/2020 season offers anniversary presentations of two annual series, the return of two favourites, and a world premiere.
Tap:Ex: Augmented Opera
In November 2019, Tapestry presents the fifth installment of Tap:Ex, a bold exploration of opera and contemporary culture. Tap:Ex: Augmented Opera intersects opera and augmented reality, and will be produced in November 2019 hosted at Sidewalk Labs’ experimental workspace on the Waterfront.
Continuing the spate of anniversaries, Tapestry’s annual Songbook series returns in March 2020 for its 10th year. Songbook X celebrates great Canadian arias and duets featuring star mezzo soprano Krisztina Szabo and master collaborative pianist Chris Foley, who was co-creator of the series in 2010.
In February 2020, Tapestry unveils its world premiere of Jacqueline, a new full-length opera by composer Luna Pearl Woolf and librettist Royce Vavrek. Vavrek is a prolific Canadian librettist who recently won a Pulitzer Prize for Angel’s Bone. Celebrated internationally, Vavrek returns to Canada for this, his first Canadian commission. The production stars internationally acclaimed soprano Marnie Breckenridge and Montreal-based virtuoso cellist Matt Haimovitz, as it tells the story of Jacqueline du Pré, the world-renowned British cellist whose career was brought to a dramatic halt in the 1970s with a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. Directed by Michael Mori, the production will be premiered in the Betty Oliphant Theatre with design by Camellia Koo.
Rocking Horse Winner
In April 2020 Tapestry brings back its acclaimed production of Rocking Horse Winner, which mesmerized Toronto audiences with its world premiere in 2016. The haunting work based on a short story by D.H. Lawrence swept the Dora Mavor Moore Awards in 2017, nominated for nine categories and winning in five, including Outstanding Production, Outstanding Direction for Michael Mori, and Outstanding Male Lead for tenor Asitha Tennekoon. The production will once again be directed by Michael Mori and will feature several members of the original cast, including Tennekoon.
Not seen since 2001, Tapestry’s most epic operatic work combining opera, Chinese opera, and the history of Canada’s railroads returns in a special 40th anniversary concert in July. Limited tickets will be available for one night to celebrate the remarkable symphonic score and singers of Iron Road.
FOUR GROUNDBREAKING NEW WORKS IN DEVELOPMENT
Underscoring its vitality as an incubator and producer of new works, Tapestry Opera announces four commissions that are currently in active development. In its prolific creation and diverse approach to new Canadian operas, the company sets itself apart from any others in the country.
R.U.R. – A torrent of light is a new full-length opera by composers Nicole Lizée and librettist Nicolas Billon in venue and design partnership with OCAD U. R.U.R. follows the story of Helen and Dominique, founding partners of a major tech and robotics company as they grapple with their next innovation and the rapid advances in Artificial Intelligence.
Also in development:
- A new co-commission with Opera Philadelphia
- A new site-specific opera by the creators of Iron Road, Ka Nin Chan and Mark Brownell in partnership with Luminato
- A new site specific opera by composer Brian Current and librettist Liza Balkan
Tapestry’s lean and adaptive business model opens a new chapter, leveraging its strong partnerships with theatre and opera companies across Canada to take on major challenges facing the sector.
Bridging the distance divide and embracing new technology in championing great Canadian works and artists
Acknowledging Tapestry Opera’s relentless pursuit of innovation, partnership building, and capacity to undertake visionary projects, the Canada Council’s Digital Strategies Fund has awarded the company a major multi-year grant in order to create a smart digital Canadian opera catalogue. Over three years a digital resource will be launched that combines a Canadian opera encyclopedia, catalogue, and score and album marketplace in partnership with the Canadian Music Centre and most major opera companies in Canada to become the world’s ultimate resource for exploring Canadian opera. Never before have all Canadian operatic works been searchable or accessible in one place, contributing to its lack of visibility in the national arts landscape.
With support from the governments of Ontario and Quebec, Tapestry’s internationally known Composer-Librettist Laboratory will join forces with Opéra de Montréal to create the very first bilingual LIBLAB from composers and librettists from both provinces exploring bilingualism in opera. LIBLAB is a unique, intensive Tapestry workshop that pairs composers and librettists together to foster artistic partnerships and develop seeds of projects that may grow into full commissions. It is the creative engine driving many new Canadian opera works.